Sunday, March 28, 2010

Swimming with the Stone Fish

After my adventure to the lake last weekend I’ve had fish and fossils floating through my mind. I felt inspired to take out my extensive collection of all things rock: geodes, crinoids, fossils and other random stone treasures. I had a very nice time sorting my collection, since that brings a sense of order to my mind and my work. It’s something like spring housecleaning, except that you don’t need to discover all the places your boys marked up the walls or left scraps of food someplace out of sight. The natural result of such an endeavor was that I decided to launch into a weaving that included various fossils and crinoids. My new Stone Fish piece is taking shape! As I sorted my crinoids based on size I really enjoyed the spectrum of colors. There’s a lot of geology happening in southern Indiana, whether you notice it or not. When it’s all laid out in front of you the range of red, brown and sand tones on the rocks is amazing. It’s kind of like people or flowers I suppose. You can start with the same basic design, but depending on much light they get, and how much rain falls on them, and who their neighbors are, you can see a lot of variation. Anyway, in my world of deciding on composition for a weaving, contrast and comparison took center stage. I pulled out my boxes of yarns in complementing colors for the project. Out came my light brown and sand tones, then my earthy greens and oranges. The stone and the yarn make the ultimate contrast: the old and the new, the inorganic and the organic, and the hard and the soft. To my husband the fisherman, one is more like a sinker and the other more of a dry fly.

With the materials and composition ideas in mind, the weaving process itself is also very Zen-like. The colors flow as they undulate into the background, very much like the layers of soil and rock in the surrounding hills. The crinoids line the layers, but now they’re wired into place instead of being deposited in an organic sea millions of years ago. Cozying up to the yarn probably reminds them of their organic origins long ago. It’s amazing what bubbles up from your subconscious as you weave! To create the stone fish I pulled out some fern fossils that Rudy Turner, a microscopist at Indiana University gave me. The fossil patterns, set on their side, look a lot like a fish skeleton set into a flesh of sandstone. I like that feature for creating the body. I’m still looking for the perfect fish head, though. I spent an hour or so yesterday scouring the Jackson Creek bed for a perfect fossil but I’m afraid I came up empty. The boys chased water striders, minnows and crayfish through the shallows, while avoiding the leeches and garter snake they came across, so it was a good day overall. For the fitting end to the day, my husband carried out my morning wish to have a fish dinner. He brought two frozen Mahi Mahi chunks back to life with a marinade of ginger and balsamic vinegar, plus a little garlic and honey. Very tasty! Thank goodness not every fish is destined to be a fossil.

Until next week…

Martina Celerin


  1. If you come over and rake out my garden beds, you can have all the fossils you find! I'm SURE they're out there!!

  2. um hum, right under the gold bullions?

  3. Wow. I am so envious that you have a natural source of these little treasures! Lovely weaving, too!

  4. Thank you! I love traveling and finding whatever natural treasure happens to be in the area - sometimes it's just rusted things - but those can be useful too!

  5. Thank you for sharing, Im an amateur explorer. I've found these little treasures and it's nice to know someone else collects them!